A man stands with a packed suitcase next to him or behind him. He stares out into the distance obviously thinking hard. He is wearing a jacket.
At first, I loved her and she loved me. Loved me. Loved me. She made me so happy. I never thought that I’d find that kind of love. I was prepared to settle down with someone I mildly liked. But she changed that. And slowly she started to change me. I was once brave and bold albeit a bit sceptical of love’s role in my life.
It’s been fifteen years now and three children later… And I cannot take it anymore. You know now days how you hear about how bad patriarchy is? Don’t get me wrong, I support feminist views and I believe in equality. But little thought is ever given to the minorities like me who suffer at the other end of the scale.
You see this suitcase? It’s packed. (He picks up the case, seemingly ready to leave.) And I am leaving. (He pauses and stares as he did previous. He then puts down the case softly.) I don’t want to do this to her. But I must. Please don’t judge me. Don’t judge me like her. Don’t tell me I’m a spineless fool. That’s all I ask.
I wear long clothing because of the bruises. This is my favourite jacket. Well, it’s my only jacket. I don’t get much money. (Ashamed.) Well I do, but she takes it all. I didn’t mind it in the beginning. It made her happy and when she was happy I was happy too. But you can’t take away a toy from a child… Especially if that toy is money and that child is a greedy human… (Pause. He is lost in thought now.)
Child. Children. My children… What about them? (He snaps out of it). I mustn’t worry about them. They’ll be fine. (He isn’t convincing). You know, she’s threatened them before… Not to their face but to me. She said if I ever tried to leave her she’d hurt them. And she will. (Getting upset.) Trust me she will. If she can do it to the father of her children she can sure as hell do it to them. (He is now notably upset at the idea of his children being hurt by her.)
I fell for her and I fell hard. But now I realise that I didn’t fall in love… I fell and broke. False happiness hid the bruises. Well, this jacket too. (Pause.) I must go now. (He picks up the case again. He takes a few hesitant steps but then stops and drops the case.) I can’t… I just can’t. (He is now on the edge of a breakdown – tears if possible.) She has me trapped. What am I without her abuse? I’m nobody. She’s right. Without her I’m nobody. I’m useless. I’m, I’m… I’m fucked up. (He gains composure.) I know – I’ll leave tomorrow. I promise I’ll leave tomorrow. Just one more night with the kids… Just one more night.
On stage is a boy holding a weathered book and a pencil that is almost finished. He is sitting down with his legs crossed and is dressed in rag-like clothing.
All I have is this book and this pencil. I mean it. That’s all I have. Well I lie, I have these clothes too but they aren’t much anyway. Look for yourself! Holes everywhere. Much like my life… Missing pieces, ripped edges, filthy marks… It’s quite funny actually that all I have is this book and pencil. (He chuckles.) I can’t write. Or read. Or count very high. But that’s me. I can draw though. Look here! (Standing. He shows the audience a picture he drew – it’s a simple stick family) That’s what I imagine my family looked like. (Pause. He seems a little sad by mentioning family.)
When I said this is all I have I meant it. I have nobody. My parents died when I was still a baby. I have no brothers and sisters – well none that I know of at least. I was raised by an old lady, she had a face like my clothes. That’s all I remember about her – I never knew her name. She left when I was seven. She went to the clinic – she’ll be back. I’ve been on my own since. It’s always been natural for me to find food for myself. I manage. I think I should be bigger by now though… I’m sixteen. I think I’m sixteen at least. When I said that old lady left when I was seven, well that’s how old I think I was. I don’t actually know.
I don’t count days very well… I just draw a picture for every day that I don’t get hurt by them… I haven’t drawn many pictures. When I say ‘them’ I mean the guys who sleep under the bridge. They hurt me whenever they see me with money. And they take the money to buy this green stuff and smoke it. It smells horrible. Sometimes they sniff this white sand. But that’s not often. I just try avoid them, but they always find me. If I have something to give them, I know I won’t be hurt that much.
They also call me names. They tell me I’m worthless scum who can’t even read. But I know that I’m not worthless. Just because I can’t read or write or count properly doesn’t mean I can’t think. I’m good at thinking. I think all day about my parents. I know they loved me. Just like the old lady with the dirty face. (Pause. The emotion shifts to very sad.) I lied when I said that all I remember is her face… I also remember she used to hug me and I felt warm. I want to feel warm again… Why did she have to leave? I want her back. She’ll stop them beating me. She still hasn’t come back from the clinic. Maybe she’s waiting for me there… Or maybe she’s, she’s… (Pause at the realisation she is probably dead.) No! (He cries. He then rips out the page of his family from his book and crumples it up in anger, frustration and sheer desperation.) Why?